In 2008, two leading players, Volvo Group and Eicher Motors, in the commercial vehicle business joined hands with a common vision of driving modernisation in the commercial transport business in India. The company includes the complete range of Eicher branded trucks and buses, exclusive distribution of Volvo trucks in India, engine manufacturing and exports for Volvo Group, non-automotive engines and Eicher component business. A multi-brand, multi-division company, backed by innovative products and services, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles (VECV) today, is recognised as an industry leader in CV industry. VECV offers a range of ultra-modern trucks across 4.9-55T, along with a wide range over 150 fully built and bus chassis variants across light, medium and heavy-duty applications.
Gagandeep Singh Gandhok, Senior VP, HD Trucks Business at VECV, speaks on Eicher’s legacy in offering superior uptime services, and some of the distinguishing features of Eicher’s superior uptime facilities.
Kindly talk to us about your HD product portfolio for 2021?
At VECV, we have a robust product portfolio in the heavy-duty range; starting from 18.5T to 55T and Pro 3019, Pro 6028T, Pro 6028TM, Pro 6048 and 8035XM are some of our best performing models in this segment. These HD trucks and buses are equipped with VEDX 5&8L and E494 engines, offering from 210HP to 350HP output power and world class Engine Management System (EMS) based on Volvo Group’s global platform, high pressure Denso FIE system and reinforced Domex chassis to make them the most reliable products in their class. These 100 per cent connected BS VI vehicles are powered by Eicher Live, delivering built-to-last superior uptime. Additional features like cruise control, modern and premium cabin design, fuel coaching, Mbooster+ and intelligent Engine Protection System (EPS) make the Eicher HD trucks a preferred choice.
Eicher HD business is growing in last couple of years, we have increased our market share by 2 per cent this year. Overall HD truck segment is divided into three categories mass (basic), value and premium trucks, where in BSVI share of value trucks is growing, we command over 25 per cent share. Within the HD truck portfolio we offer Pro 3000, Pro 6000 and Pro 8000 series of products catering to various application and segment and some of these segments we command double digit market share. All our BSVI Eicher trucks are 100 per cent connected and backed by 24x7 uptime support centre, as it helps prevent breakdowns through predictive fault alerts and Remote diagnostics by specialists using “Eicher LIVE”.
Throw some light around Eicher’s legacy in offering superior uptime services. Some distinguishing features of Eicher’s superior uptime facilities.
Eicher has always had a customer-first philosophy that offers a compelling ownership experience to its customers, accompanied with performance, reliability and competitive total-cost-of-ownership. Over the years, the company has remained at the forefront to introduce trucks with higher power and torque combinations, by bringing Pro series of trucks with world class technology, modern cabin and intelligent features that offer higher productivity.
Continuing with the same philosophy, VECV introduced an all-encompassing BS VI platform called EuTech6 with a strong focus on uptime and aftermarket service. The all-new EUTECH6 enabled HD trucks are built on the proven Volvo Group Engine technology that has set many benchmarks in the industry for uptime. One such example is the Pro 8000 mining trucks that have crossed 36,000 engine hours in five years. These trucks are built with robust and durable aggregates coupled with our 24x7 robust product support network that ensure our trucks do not break down.
The company has also set up an India’s first uptime centre, a technologically-enabled facility dedicated for uptime situated at Pithampur, that works around the clock to remotely detect the faults in the trucks running anywhere in India and provide them the required support thereby consistently ensuring superior uptime to customers. It has invested heavily on improving uptime of Eicher vehicles by shifting from reactive to proactive to predictive approach towards vehicle upkeep with real time information sharing. All this work is part of company’s ongoing strategy to build products that last, ensuring 100 per cent connected ecosystem and offering customised services for our customers. The company has also introduced Eicher site support especially for mining and construction customers where the sites are mostly remotely located and need hassle-free support 24X7 to ensure the projects run smoothly and timely.
Also, to ensure that trucks are always running on road, Eicher became the first CV player to introduce Eicher On-Road Service (EOS) that provides round-the-clock assistance to the customers. Eicher today is fully prepared to meet the demand of the industry and are supplying high productivity, robust HD trucks that are reliable with a high service life and have proven their mettle under tough operating conditions across a variety of applications.
To ensure a seamless service experience, Eicher has been developing an ever-growing robust dealership network. Adding to the aftermarket proposition, these dealerships offer 350+ GPS enabled EOS vans with expert technicians and tools, which ensures the speedy recovery of any truck post breakdown. The company has also introduced Eicher site support for their HD trucks especially for mining and construction customers where the sites are remotely located and need hassle-free support 24x7 to ensure the projects run smoothly and timely.
What benefits does the Eicher Live solution bring to the HD portfolio.
In the age of technology, CV and fleet owners today expect more visibility on the status of their vehicles and respective parts and what services are required. Addressing these, the company has made significant investments in its digitalisation initiatives. Eicher was the first CV player to introduce a 100 per cent connected vehicles portfolio in the country. It was one of the first manufacturers that introduced advanced telematics in the industry called ‘Eicher Live’.
Today, Eicher Live is India’s most comprehensive telematics solution for enhanced productivity and increased profitability, available as a standard fitment across the HD portfolio. It provides real time dashboard data analytics of the fleet, tracking the most important factors including fuel management and remote fault identification thus allowing customers to plan their operations and maintenance. This in turn leads to better driver management.
The company has also set up an India’s first Uptime center, a technologically enabled facility dedicated for uptime situated at Pithampur, that works around the clock in order to remotely detect the faults in the trucks running anywhere in India and provide them the required support thereby consistently ensuring superior uptime to customers. It has invested heavily on improving uptime of Eicher vehicles by shifting from reactive to proactive to predictive approach towards vehicle upkeep with real time information sharing.
What are the factors that are currently driving demand for the HD segment and what is the outlook from here?
There are quite a few factors working in tandem to finally have kicked in a recovery in the HD segment, with respect to demand and sales. We have been witnessing demand for our HD vehicles, especially tippers and haulage trucks in segments like construction, mining, agriculture, logistics, etc. For instance, at VECV we recorded a sale of 30,000 units of which 25 per cent were HD trucks and 7 per cent buses. Our market share grew from 6 to 8 per cent for the HD trucks segment in FY21. Going forward, with the Government’s increased focus on the infrastructure segment and the implementation of incentive-based, voluntary scrappage policy, the demand is going to further increase.
What are the markets that you are witnessing good demand for the HD vehicles from?
The HD truck market traditionally has been driven by North and West markets, contributing over 75 per cent to TIV, followed by South and East. With government keen on improving infrastructure (one of major drivers in reviving economy) and connecting Northeast to the rest of India and on account of on-going stand-off with China, Pakistan, the Government’s focus has increased to strengthen India’s border region (we are seeing a lot construction activities in these region – building of roads, highway, railway, tunnel, setting hydro plant, etc., which will drive demand for tippers, and in-addition with growing demand for online shopping (amid Covid-19 situation), we have seen boom in e-commerce segment and will see demand from this segment growing.
According to you what are the key market trends likely to be seen in these times, the impact it will have for the overall construction equipment industry, specifically your area of business in this sector?
The worst is over for the CV industry. In the month of February, the industry witnessed 30 per cent increase in demand of HD vehicles, and going forward, we expect more and more demand to come in on the back of positive industry sentiments and replacement demand. Apart from this, we are also expecting good sales on the back of big infrastructure and highway projects granted by the government during the Union Budget 2021 that will ultimately boost the demand for construction vehicles such as tippers, haulage trucks, etc. We are also witnessing demand from the coal mining sector. As in the commercial coal mining, out of 38 mines put on auction, 19 have successfully been auctioned. All of these together will help the mining segment to grow, which will drive the sales of HD trucks.
How do you see the movement towards non-fossil fuels vehicles in India? Do you see the HD segment to transition into any alternative fuel option?
The Government has laid a great emphasis on the use of sustainable energy in order to protect the environment. Along with the Central Government, the Governments of various States have undertaken initiatives to promote the use of EVs. However, we believe that CNGs will take the lead much before the EVs. With more and more CNG stations being established in the country along the national highways and State expressways, running a CNG truck has become a viable option. Also, the increasing cost of diesel will promote more and more customers to buy CNG vehicles. Moreover, all our vehicles are now 100 per cent connected, which comes with completely factory-fitted advanced telematics solutions. These trucks offer better fuel economy, uptime service reducing the overall cost of ownership.
For HD vehicles however, LNG is a more viable option specially to accommodate the long hauls that these vehicles are used for. The Government of India has laid down specific focus on building the LNG infrastructure in the country including policy measures to allow any entity to set up LNG stations in any geographical area. It is already planning to set up 350 LNG fuelling stations along the 6,000-km long golden quadrilateral highways. Once these milestones are set up, it is only a matter of time before the migration to LNG starts happening. Customers are aware of the benefits that these LNG operated trucks would bring, hence the demand stands assured. From a manufacturer standpoint, we are also well positioned to deliver on this transition.